[3.10] Necromantic Scribe - [5.8k Life] [6M dps] [Fun Playstyle]
thank you for the nice build! I'm playing this one in the current flashback event and it's a lot of fun.
I think I will play this one in the new season probably as well, so do you have any suggestions for the synth items you are playing in this build?
What I would like to see in this guide as well is probably a kinda more detailed or structured "leveling tips" section.
on May 14, 2019, 2:06:44 AM
Hey there, the build sounds awesome and I will try it out in the next league. But I have a couple of questions regarding your choices in this build.
1. Why did you go for Pathfinder specifically? For the QOL of flasks and not having to manage the virulence stacks as often? Or is there any other reason? Because I could see this build also running on a Trickster with a little more tankiness and DoT damage. Or maybe even an occultist for even more tankiness.
2. Since Synthesis is not going core, what other ring would you recommend instead of the Circle of Nostalgia? Another lgoh one? Or a simple life and resistances rare?
Will we still be able to run the herald on a 5 link? Or do we have to run it only on a 4 link minion level helmet?
Keep up the good work and thank you for this build guide!
on May 14, 2019, 5:02:54 AM
Thanks for the feedback! Yeah I felt the same way when playing the original version of this build. It may not the be the most OP or highest scaling build in the game, but it's enough to do all content and it is the most fun I've ever had in PoE. I tried to recreate that playstyle as closely as possible, and it seems to have worked.
You're right about the transition period. I played it as a league starter, and the one thing I'm trying to improve is how to more smoothly transition into the build. It feels a little clunky until it all clicks. I imagine it's similar for all HoA builds though.
on May 15, 2019, 4:09:04 AM
Thanks, let me know how it goes!
A lot of the decisions in this build were focused on making it more smooth and enjoyable to play. You're basically right about the pathfinder benefits, also tree location is fairly significant (discussion further below). I noticed a few personal problems with other variants of this build:
1) Relying solely on Herald damage means that pack clearing can sometimes feel a bit stuttery (herald focuses wrong direction to clear a mob, and delays killing a pack in front of you). Or gets stuck around corners, requiring use of convocation.
2) Without the pathfinder Virulence node, I often find boss fight videos for those builds (eg. Occultist) rarely hit 40 stacks - often capping out at mid 30's even when spamming attacks. Even though they likely have higher boss dps due to being a pure herald build, I didn't want this. I wanted to optimise the build as much as possible, and by having more leeway with virulence stacks, it allows more flexible boss fighting (more time to dodge attacks, position, and herald can continue dpsing at maximum rate for longer when things start to go awry, which is often when you need the dps the most).
3) Other variants are not too speedy. I like archer-style builds in general and moving quickly feels good. They don't need to be QotF-style speed, but it's hard to play a build like this and then go back :(
As a pathfinder, you get increased flask effect (Quicksilver), some move speed nodes on the tree, and can run haste aura over discipline.
4) Increased flask effect and flask recharge is huge QoL and means you can spam flasks, even on boss fights.
5) We also get a fairly significant (50%) aoe boost to Soulrend, as well as 30% increased chaos damage (more beneficial than it sounds as we aren't scaling much "increased" at all) from Nature's Reprisal. I believe the AoE bonus will effect the width of how far Soulrend projectiles will debuff enemies (similar to increased AoE with Ball Lightning), though I haven't tested this. Probably helps apply soulrend to whole packs without having "cold spots" between the soulrend projectiles where enemies don't get hit.
Also gives significant AoE for wither totems. Another example of more synergy in places where you wouldn't expect it.
For class selection, I likely wouldn't pick trickster. Patient Reaper is okay for mapping damage, though the on-kill and regen aspects are not that important because we already have mana and life gain from Poacher's Mark.
Ghost shrouds are probably the best part unsurprisingly, but everything else falls a bit short.
Harness the void does nothing, Weave the Arcane is not really useful, Prolonged Pain doesn't have any great stats for us. Swift killer is bad: we don't need power charges, the damage bonus is okay, frenzy charges are a bit of speed for mapping but we already get them from Poacher's Mark.
The Escape Artist helm bonus is mostly wasted, unless you happen to get an ES-based i86 elder helm, which would likely cost a lot. Even then, you probably won't be rolling much ES on it if you want to craft a +3 5L helm for your Herald. The chest bonus is decent as Cospri's has 2k evasion (equal to around +300 flat ES).
Although the "more damage over time" from Prolonged Pain might seem good, it isn't for a number of reasons:
1) You usually want to scale your character's damage according to boss/shaper dps as much as possible. You will not struggle on trash mobs, your main focus should be increasing boss damage. On bosses, we switch to herald dps and don't actually use Soulrend at all. So this node is increasing our trash clear dps, but not doing anything for bosses. Having said that, it's a QoL increase for mapping, but that's all it is.
2) Because of the interactions between "more" and "increased", picking up "more" multipliers becomes much better once you already have a lot of "increased" scaling. In this build, we are getting almost no scaling for Soulrend, and relying on the high base damage. Therefore this "more" multiplier is not being exploited as much as it would be in a spell damage build. I wouldn't be surprised if a single good spell damage roll on gear gave more overall Soulrend damage than the "20% more" on this node.
Also, Soulrend has an initial hit component which will not be scaled by damage over time scaling.
Overall, trickster just fails to make best use of the trickster nodes. It's a good ascendancy, especially with the changes this league, just not so much for this build.
You really do not want to be focusing too much on scaling your Soulrend damage, you want to just push it to the point where it's good enough, and scale your herald instead. I may write a section about this in the main post as I think it might be a recurring trap for players for this build, where they believe most of the damage is coming from Soulrend and therefore need to put points and effort into scaling it, which is really not the case.
Occultist is a good tanky option, and the spell damage leech from the Soulrend gem is a nice healing mechanism that we would essentially get for free.
However ES-based builds lose the ability entirely to use Life Gain on Hit. Since we are spamming a very high attack speed, rapid-fire skill in the form of Volley Fire'd Barrage, this is a big loss.
I also didn't want to play occultist this league because of the expense of ES gear. Occultist HoA is a strong, tankier HoA build, however it has a slower, less enjoyable playstyle (for me), and it's already known to be strong and fairly meta (hence the gear and helm enchants will not be cheap).
Also, one of the biggest reasons not to play this particular build as occultist is that everything about the occultist seems to double-up and overlap mechanics that we already inherently get. It would be much better if we didn't already get access to these. I will list most of the examples of this below.
1) Profane Bloom (Hexproof, and corpse explosion).
Hexproof essentially allows us to drop Cospri's Will, which we would want to do anyway in favour of an ES chest. So we gain a chest slot in comparison, but lose an ascendancy node. But then we also lose significant poison chance, so we need to make this up elsewhere, possibly at the cost of skill points. In a pathfinder build, Cospri's provides us Hexproof, an extra curse (same as Malediction), poison equivalent to a poison gem (basically making barrage a 6/7L), high evasion, chaos res (wasted on a CI build). The only thing it lacks is a life roll. It's also incredibly cheap because most builds will not be making use of all these stats at once. It's really such a perfect chestpiece for this build.
The corpse explosion is good QoL. I swap in haemophilia gloves to get explosions on pathfinder, and we also get a little damage boost from the increased damage over time on those gloves. I imagine the occultist node is nicer on pure HoA builds, as it applies to minions kills as well. This node also allows us to use better gloves, so it's a little better than haemophilia, however if you're using the glove swap for bosses, then you're only getting a glove upgrade for mapping, arguably where you need it least.
2) Malediction (extra curse, small +curse effect).
We don't benefit from the non-chaos as chaos bonus as our character's damage source is already chaos.
The extra curse is good, but it's just offsetting the extra curse that we are losing by not wearing Cospri's Will. Small curse effect bonus sounds nice, in PoB it doesn't add a huge amount of damage but it's still something.
3) Void Beacon + Withering Presence (- enemy chaos res, DoT multi, lots of chaos res, wither application).
The DoT multi suffers from the same issue as trickster - works best on builds that are really pushing the scaling (which we aren't), and does nothing for boss damage.
The - chaos res is nice, but it's not great. Again, we don't need the bonus for trash. For bosses, our crawler does around half chaos damage. It will be increasing this, but you need to be close enough for the debuff to apply. If you are offscreening (which is possible with this build), you may not be getting the bonus.
The chaos res is wasted if going CI. It's good if going lowlife, but we wouldn't do this on this build.
Wither is very good for our build. The withering effect from this ascendancy requires you standing close to the boss, which we won't be doing. And the ramp up time is way too long. Full ramp time for wither totems is around 1-2 seconds (see main post). This would take 15 seconds of standing next to the boss. Which will not happen. Therefore you can estimate that you will have maybe one or two stacks on the boss before phasing it. Wither is too important to our damage to rely on this flaky, slow mechanic to build our stacks (see same issue with Withering Touch in the FAQ).
4) Wicked Ward + Vile Bastion (High flat ES, ES recharge QoL, stun immune, ES regen when clearing mobs).
This is most likely the branch to take along with Malediction.
The flat ES is good. The ES recharge thing is good. The stun immunity is good and needed as a result of going ES.
The regen while killing is nice but a bit wasted. It won't work/be consistent on bosses, which is where we need it most. On trash packs, it's not necessary because Soulrend gives innate ES leech via the skill gem. Often this node is taken for this effect, so it feels bad to waste such a powerful bonus of the Occultist.
In terms of healing/regen, by going ES you are losing the ability to use Life gain on Hit (including from one of our curses, proj weakness, which you would probably still use anyway due to it's other benefits). This is a big loss.
You are gaining ES regen while mapping. I think overall this is still a net win for the life build. In addition, the LGoH build is not effected by no regen map mods, unlike the ES regen from the occultist node.
On bosses, you have LGoH (via curse (reduced on boss), via rings (unreduced), via LGoH gem (unreduced)) and instant life flasks (spammable due to pathfinder). This is compared to the static occultist ES recharge only. Life build pulls ahead here fairly significantly.
One benefit to a CI build is that since the LGoH gem is useless, you could replace it for a Poison gem to give you 60% poison chance. However this is basically just making up for the fact that you're losing 60% poison chance from Cospri's Will, and in addition it's increasing mana costs of your barrage. So it's still a net loss.
You could instead socket in another curse (if your poison chance is somehow capped), which frees up a flask slot for the mapping setup (witchfire brew can be removed, but this also reduces your damage because of the damage over time roll) and a single gem socket in the boss setup (Despair gem can be removed from Poet's Pen).
In both cases, I can't really think of anything good to replace those with. Both of them make good use of an otherwise fairly useless slot to apply something useful and are therefore doing it almost for free. So you are losing a fairly significant bonus (life gain on hit gem) for... almost nothing in return.
Our mana reservation is fairly strained as well. There is a lot of micro-adjusting to be done depending on where you can get your hands on mana reservation reduction (tree nodes, helm enchants, synthesis ring, some unique items). But in general we are already very low on this. If you wanted to fit discipline in, you would need to probably drop something. Either haste, or the banner (not sure if this would free up enough). You can't really just throw money at it and run a level 4 enlighten either because the bulk of your mana reservation is not auras which can take an additional socket link, but rather a fully linked HoA.
So either you don't run discipline (probably a bad idea) or you reduce some other aspect of the build to accommodate it. You aren't just getting it for free unfortunately.
There are also major skill tree pathing issues. We need three dex-based jewel sockets for our Volley fire jewels to activate. If playing an occultist, you would likely path in such a way that all three of the current sockets would be dropped. There is nowhere to pick up three dex-jewel sockets as a replacement for this. Maybe one near Charisma, but that's it. This is a major issue and either requires spending points inefficiently to take these jewel sockets anyway, or play the build without barrage, and consequently a lot of the other aspects of the build, which removes most of what distinguishes this build from a pure defensive HoA variant.
We are already stretched for points to path across the tree. Playing an ES-based, non-lowlife occultist, CI is almost a must. This requires more pathing to the top right area from Witch start. We would likely drop the ranger area as we cannot use Acrobatics or any of the life nodes. However this is also where the additional chance to poison nodes are available (down near duelist, or below ranger, or near Acro), which are even more necessary when playing an occultist variant (and without the synthesis herald ring), as you don't have the big boost from Cospri's. Dropping the ranger area also drops the required jewel sockets as mentioned above.
We are required to path over to the templar minion node wheels, the mana reserve reductions (Sovereignty, also even more important without the synthesis ring), and Whispers of Doom. RT is a nice node as well as we're already close-by. It's not required but provides more consistency and QoL.
Ideally as an Occultist variant, you would probably want to path down the shadow area (and ditch the pathing through scion life wheel and marauder). However we need to take enough dex jewel sockets, so maybe the best pathing to take might be the inner scion path towards Perfect Agony. Still it is a lot less efficient, and I think you would struggle to make a good skill tree.
Initially, this build was a scion necro-deadeye. However many patches ago, the bonuses of this combo were changed and it's no longer the best choice. That build also used animate weapon and SRS, both of which scaled well with the minion attack speed bonus of necro, which HoA almost doesn't benefit from at all. It also benefited from the skill effect duration heavily by using permanent Vaal Haste (which is no longer possible in this build due to the changes of vaal skills) and using minions with a duration.
A decent choice now is a scion occultist-pathfinder. This would provide some alternative bonuses to pure pathfinder, while still retaining the flask sustain and speed bonuses. You get +1 curse, which could either give you a 4th curse, or save roughly 4-5 points from Whispers of Doom to spend elsewhere.
It also allows good pathing (either directly from scion, or from the ranger scion start node) to the ranger area for the appropriate nodes. You also potentially get stun immunity if you have a little amount of ES, as you will be recharging it with the ES leech from Soulrend. It may not be 100% reliable, but in a life version currently I don't take the Brine King pantheon anyway, so you can kind-of think of this as getting the Brine King pantheon for free in addition to Soul of Lunaris and all it's bonuses.
Scion ascendancy also gives a decent amount of intelligence, which can help with our stat requirements for int which is a bit strained.
I think this is a very good option and imo is the one worth considering as an alternative to pure pathfinder. I took pathfinder over scion occ-pf for the following reasons:
1) Virulence sustain, which is lacking in the scion-pathfinder node. Also extra AoE poisons from Nature's Reprisal, which helps with more stacks (mainly QoL for clearing). All of this helps always have 40 stacks while mapping, which I believe is one of the main contributors to how smooth or stuttery mapping feels on any herald build.
2) Immunity to elemental ailments (this is pretty big - also lacking in the scion-pathfinder node).
3) Chaos damage, and chaos skill AoE.
4) (This is an irrelevant point now that poison is not being used for damage.)
I was initially planning poison with Null's Inclination to be the self-damage portion of this build (now replaced by Soulrend). Pathfinder gets a lot of poison based damage boosts that the scion node does not get.
Basically the decision comes down to whether or not the above pathfinder-only bonuses are more valuable than the occultist-scion bonuses.
I decided that the ranger pathfinder bonuses were better than the scion variant (even after discounting the poison stats). Again, the QoL and smoothness of this build is not to be undervalued.
If you're going to be deviating from a pure HoA build (such as the meta occultist variant) then you need to have some aspect to the build that is superior to those tanky, defensive herald builds. In this case it is speed, QoL and smoothness/fun factor that sets it apart.
If you want to drop that aspect, that's fine, but I think you run the risk of converting this build too far to a gimped, strictly inferior version of a pure HoA build, without the benefits of either.
In terms of scion vs. ranger, it's a toss-up.. the extra curse from scion seems good but you're pathing all the way over to the templar minion wheel anyway and even further to get the reservation reduction nodes (if going scion, you could MAYBE drop these and get your reductions from the Charisma wheel instead, though it's 2% less).
There are life nodes worth taking above this, so reaching Whispers of Doom is actually pretty efficient once we're all the way up here.
This section of the tree also gives a surprising amount of intelligence, which helps a lot in reaching our int requirements. If you have to reinvest these saved points into the +30 int nodes to reach your requirements, you aren't exactly saving points.
I'm not sure if you would have more or less passive points with Scion. You get a couple from Scion ascendancy, and can possibly drop some travelling nodes due to the Scion ascendancy's ability to start directly from Ranger, so you initially start with more points.
However I think the pathing in the tree may be slightly less efficient, therefore requiring a few more points, and one of the main issues is that because of our volley fire jewel requirements, we need to take the jewel sockets along the travelling paths that you would most likely want to skip by using the Scion ascendancy. I definitely did some mock-up scion trees before this league started while I was developing the build, and it was either very similar or slightly worse in terms of points. There wasn't a lot to be gained by going scion in terms of passive points, it was more about the comparison of bonuses from the Ascendancy.
Either way I think either pure pathfinder or scion pathfinder-occultist both make very good use of the benefits that they get.
I think pure occultist is very well suited for a pure HoA build, however in this one many of the bonuses are either outright wasted, or redundant to some degree and are not being used to their full potential. They don't synergise and mesh well with what this build needs and are more of a minor side benefit.
They're a bit like replacing your major, build defining ascendancy nodes with all minor nodes. Small benefits, but nothing big and you're just not getting the big bonuses that an ascendancy should provide.
Synth not going core is not an issue in the slightest. The only synthesis items we are using are an endurance charge implicit shield and the ring, both of which were afterthought additions while I was actually playing the league. The shield is not necessary, obviously just a generic shield with life, resists and/or spell damage or whatever bonuses you can get will be good. You can definitely use a unique shield, I just couldn't find any that actually gave us any useful stats over a rare. Victario's is the exception, but it's only needed for bossing as we don't rely on the Herald for clearing.
As far as the Ring of Nostalgia goes, this is not a problem. This ring was pretty cheap and most people considered it junk for good reason. It has no life, the buff effect does not effect the herald damage (so useless for HoA builds), the mana reservation also is often useless for HoA builds if using coming calamity, the chaos damage is useless for HoA builds. Even the chaos res is potentially useless for HoA builds if going occultist CI.
My skill tree for this build was designed for use without this ring. When using the Ring of Nostalgia tree and ring, you get the following benefits:
A couple of skill points saved from chance to poison nodes (literally one or two in total). These can be invested into more life nodes, there isn't much other use for them. Overall a bit of life gain, which is good. To do this though, you need as close to 100% roll on the HoA buff effect as possible. Ideally 90%+.
A decent chunk of mana reservation reduction. This is the biggest benefit. Without this ring equipped, my PoB goes to -2% mana reserved.
To remedy this you could either drop the banner (the banner was just an after-addition to use up some remaining mana reservation as I found myself with more available than expected after equipping a Ring of Nostalgia, it wasn't initially in the build), or juggle gems around to fit an Enlighten into the haste links (may not be much benefit), or get a Haste reservation reduction helm enchant (HoA reduction enchant will be extremely expensive on an i86 elder helm), or spend about 7 points picking up Charisma, or any other avenue you can think of for obtaining reduced mana reservation (maybe an unreleased unique next league, who knows).
You can even stack the 1% implicit on corrupted jewels on your Volley Fires to get a couple of extra percent, as they are very cheap to corrupt. You can run a shaper amulet to get some mana reduction there, which is a good option as our requirements for the amulet slot are very low. As mentioned in the build post, an amulet is a nice source of int while getting the build going, but you can comfortably reach a point where you need zero int from the amulet (or just a very low roll), at which point you can use the slot for some other stats.
I think overall, the Ring of Nostalgia with the correct rolls is still better than the alternative. However by not running one, you can run something like a Mark of the Shaper (nice for clearing with the big spell damage bonus, as we have very little scaling for Soulrend so it contributes a lot).
However I found that after getting the build running, my clearing felt smooth even up to t16, so there was no need to try and push Soulrend further. It was doing what it needed to do. You can even get a level 21 Soulrend to boost this even more, which actually increases damage by a lot as it's raising the gem level from 23->24. I never actually did this because it wasn't necessary, but it's an example of even more ways to push the damage higher if needed before resorting to gimping your item slots.
The other option, and probably my preferred one next league, is to simply run a rare ring. You have quite a lot of options here, such as another elder LGoH ring as you mentioned. This is better than it looks, because LGoH is not reduced on bosses, unlike Poacher's Mark.
Also one of the biggest upsides of using a rare ring is being able to get a big life roll, which would almost entirely counter the life gain from the extra nodes gained by running a Ring of Nostalgia - it may even add more.
If there are any nice delve, essence, or fossil ring mods to fit in, you can do that here. There is also the option to fit in some ring available in next league that happens to fit the build perfectly - it's very flexible in that respect. The main things to focus on are getting your mana reservation sorted and getting your intelligence requirements dealt with.
This is probably way too much information, but I wanted to get all my thoughts down on paper; if anything just for my own reference for next league. I may move some of this info in to the main post at some point as well. Hopefully it's useful, if you have any questions or comments, or have some insight that I may have missed, please let me know :)
Last edited by Bobblybook on May 29, 2019, 3:40:16 PM
on May 15, 2019, 9:45:49 AM
Dude... you're amazing! Thank you!
That'a s*** ton of information. I didn't think your answer would be that detailed.
But I more than appreciate the time you took to write up that novel of an explanation!
After trying out a couple of trees with trickster and occultist, I can only fully agree with you on the points mentioned.
There is just too much wasted potential, going for trickster or occultist.
I will stick with pathfinder as I don't like scions that much. Not enough personality for my tastes.
I also think that you should add this wall of text to the main guide. There are a lot of good advice's in there that any PoE player could use well.
Especially if they are undecided which ascendancy they want to roll.
I thank you again and will keep looking out for more of your guides!
on May 15, 2019, 2:01:44 PM
I've added some info on synth items in the wall-o'-text above. I'll look into expanding the levelling section with more info.
on May 16, 2019, 11:04:25 PM
I just started playing the build and it is fun so far! :)
I wanted to ask you if you could go a little bit more into detail how you
play before you have a poets pen.
if you play with a bow what skill suits best? or vise versa with a wand.
Does it make sens start to play with barrage as soon as you got the two jewels?
thanks for taking the time to answer my question!
on May 22, 2019, 2:59:11 PM
Sure. I actually didn't get my Poet's Pens until around mapping level. If you're levelling without them, your main focus should be to abuse your Herald of Agony damage. Either stick it in a 4L helm with +1 minion gems, or put it in a 5/6L (tabula would be great) and drop your other mana reservations for now.
You can really use any bow skill. Split arrow could work for early levels, but yes Barrage is good to switch to once you have both Jewels (even only one will provide a lot of benefit). Up until you actually get Herald of Agony, you'll have to be killing things yourself, so use whatever skill you can use to kill things (Shrapnel shot works well). This is why I suggest taking the "Projectile damage" ranger branch on the tree initially, because trying to level while having no damage really doesn't feel good.
A Herald of Agony linked with Minion Damage, Damage on Full Life, Chain, GMP and Maim should really steamroll the levelling process. Stick them all in a tabula and just drop Haste aura. If the damage feels low, you could swap GMP for another damage link like Vile Toxins, but it should be more than enough.
Your main goal in terms of your own character should be how to stack Virulence up as fast as possible. This means getting 100% poison chance, and a fast hitting skill. If you need to, use both the Poison and Lesser poison gems with Barrage initially. As you get more poison chance (from Herald of Agony, and the skill tree) you can drop the gems. But make sure you always have 100% poison chance if possible. Maybe even use Faster Attacks in your barrage, if you have an available link for it. This will make it feel a lot better, don't worry about getting the full curse-on-hit setup going for now, you only really need Poacher's Mark for the mana gain on hit at this stage.
Once your herald is doing more than enough damage (and/or you switch to running Projectile Weakness curse, rendering Chain useless) you can switch your barrage into your Tabula, move your Herald to your helmet, and work towards your end-game setup.
The weapon type while levelling doesn't matter. You just want something fast... a bow would allow you another 4/5L to make your levelling gem setups easier, but a wand would allow you to use a shield like Victario's Charity, which you will need anyway for late-game. Also wands have a much cooler barrage animation, for what it's worth :)
Last edited by Bobblybook on May 23, 2019, 4:30:16 AM
on May 23, 2019, 4:16:48 AM
Hi there, great looking build!
I am hoping to use this build as a league starter, to complete my atlas quickly and efficiently, including uber elder kill. Then just farm t16 elder maps fast.
Is this build good for that option? Basically, fast mapping, and safe bossing on a budget?
Also how smooth is it levelling?
on May 26, 2019, 2:08:53 AM
This was the first league I attempted and killed uber elder, so it's hard for me to compare it to any other build. Having said that, I killed uber elder on my first attempt, not even knowing how the fight works (was dpsing the wrong target for a long time, etc.).
Yes it works well for those things. I was wondering if I would be able to push red maps, up to guardian maps, or whether the base damage of soulrend would hold up or start to drop off. But to my surprise, it was perfectly fine.
If you want to drop 50ex into a build to speed clear and know what you're doing, you would probably go faster with an LA-chain bow build, or a QotF wander, or something like that. I don't play that fast or have that kind of money, so again it depends what your idea of speed clearing is.
In terms of bossing safety, it's fine. A 100% defense occultist or gladiator HoA build will be more survivable still, but will be slower to map with.
For levelling, it has a mixture of breezy levelling and awkwardness. The herald scales well and needs very little gear (basically just gem levels and your own poison chance capped ASAP). If you want, you can supplement his damage with your own weapon if you find a decent one, but he's always going to provide good damage to fall back on if your gear sucks.
This is good for a starter build as most of us have experienced the struggle where you have no good items, and you struggle to kill simple bosses like brutus, merveil, malachai if your character is just not up to spec with it's own attacks. The difference between having subpar damage and "enough" damage is so huge in this game while levelling.
The herald provides a reliable safety net for this. The main downside is the potential awkwardness of relying on the herald for damage - sometimes he targets the wrong thing, or faces the wrong way, or gets blocked by a door (stick the chain gem in his links ASAP). This only starts to get annoying when you're really trying to go fast, eg. mapping.. and this is common to all herald builds, not specifically this one.
The main thing to remember is the herald will provide the backbone of your damage, and everything else is there to make the experience smoother and more enjoyable. For levelling or on a budget (eg. league start), you can sacrifice this smoothness no problem, and rely on the herald to actually get content done. As you gear up, you can improve the playstyle more and more.
In terms of doing content cheaply, yes it is cheap for what it can do, but I don't know what your idea of cheap is. You still need to invest some minimum currency to get things going, and if you don't do this then you might struggle on shaper or elder or anything else. But there is no 6L required, no requirements for expensive stat rolls such as "Elemental damage with attacks", no expensive uniques, it uses off-meta gear and items such as Poet's Pens, and there are clear, linear upgrade paths for items and helmet upgrades.
There are no barriers to entry where you require something expensive to make the build start working.
on May 29, 2019, 8:18:28 AM